BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Using a timely goal off the foot of Josh Luchini in the 50th minute from a pass from Natan Rosen, the Lehigh men's soccer team held off a tough Seton Hall team in the second half to come away with a 1-0 shutout victory Saturday night at the Ulrich Sports Complex. With the win, the Mountain Hawks improve to 3-1-0 overall, all three wins ending in shutout fashion.
The first half was tough for the Mountain Hawks to gain any kind of separation, as both Lehigh and Seton Hall managed just five shots a piece in the first 45. Both teams had two shots on goal during that period of time as well, Trevor Koski's header chance in the 30th minute and Justin Scharf's shot in the 41st minute that just missed. The Pirates' defense was phenomenal at handling Lehigh's offensive attack early and that became the difference maker in figuring out adjustments moving forward.
"Seton Hall did a really good job of bottling us up in the first half and we really couldn't find any answers," said head coach Dean Koski. "So we made some appropriate adjustments at halftime and we really came out in the second half, able to create 11 shots on goal and obviously a game-winner.
"The guys did a good job of managing our adjustments and playing true to them, so I'm really pleased about that."
Lehigh found its rhythm in the second half, evident by a quick score in the 50th minute from Luchini after a nice ball from Rosen played right around the left of the goalpost. The goal is Luchini's third of the season and Rosen's first career assist.
The one that won it for Lehigh.— Lehigh Men's Soccer (@LehighMSoccer) September 15, 2019
A gorgeous pass from Rosen finds Luchini for his third goal of the season and the game-winner for Lehigh on Saturday night vs. Seton Hall. #PatriotMSOC #GoLehigh pic.twitter.com/VNF6WzbENc
"We want to put Josh in a position where he can continue to have chances and second chances and he was in the right place at the right time and finished a goal where he can find maybe six, seven more of those," Koski said. "If he continues to put himself in those spots, he's going to find more goals and he was really in a good spot and it was a good finish for us."
The Mountain Hawks had a couple near chances to extend their lead in the second half when freshman Jack Sarkos' shot was saved by Andreas Nota in the 68th minute. In the 80th minute, Nota came out and tried to fetch the ball, which Luchini passed out to Rosen, who just narrowly missed scoring on an empty net right of the post. Luchini then had a header shot saved in the 86th minute which ended up being the last of the match.
The defense held Seton Hall at bay for the entire 90 minute frame, as senior goalkeeper Will Smith picked up his third shutout of the season so far. Smith ended up making three saves and sees his goals against average drop to 0.50 for the season so far.
"I think Will's consistency and leadership back there really helps us," said Koski. "I think in the first half where we needed to weather the storm a little bit, we did and I thought Will did a really good job of managing the team in the first half and going into the second half, he just played the way we needed him to play.
"It's a collective effort back there, but I think our backs and Will did a really nice job tonight."
Lehigh outshot Seton Hall, 16-10 with a win in the shots-on-goal battle, 6-3. Rosen led the way with four shots, Koski had three, Luchini had two and Scharf, Stevo Bednarsky, Michael Tahiru, Ikem Mbalewe, Sarkos, Blaise Milanek and Euan Forrest each registered a shot during the course of the game.
The Mountain Hawks have a tough test against Binghamton on the road Tuesday, a team that handed Lehigh a defeat a season ago. That matchup will be the final tune-up before Lehigh takes on American in Washington, D.C. on Saturday in the first Patriot League contest of the 2019 season.
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